WGU Indiana is state’s new online college degree program

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For high school students, there are many options for continuing their education after graduation.

But for adults who have already entered the field of work, the task of earning a college degree while still working to support their family provides very few options.

Enter Western Governor’s University – WGU for short. The internet-based, non-profit college located here in Indiana and across the county, specializes in helping adults go to college – or go back to college – and earn that degree.

Here in Indiana, Allison Barber is the Chancellor of WGU Indiana, and she’s been traveling the state sharing the news that adults in the workforce now have a new and economically feasible alternative to going to college.

Last week, she met with Ec015 officials in Columbus, Indiana, including Mike Busch, who leads the Ec015 project here in Switzerland County.

“We’re looking at the population of Switzerland County and looking at the opportunity to try and bring WGU Indiana to the county in a robust way,” Chancellor Barber said this week. “We know that about 1,100 people in Switzerland County have some college, but because life got in the way, they were unable to finish their bachelor’s degree. That’s like one in four people older than 25 in the county have some college, but no degree.”

The chancellor said that since WGU is the state’s non-profit online university, it makes it both affordable and realistic for adults and working adults to be able to go back to college and finish their bachelor’s degree.

Chancellor Barber said that WGU is looking to be helpful in Ec015’s initiative to establish an adult learning center in the new extension building currently being constructed in Vevay.

“We want to make sure that students who will be going to the adult information center have visibility about WGU Indiana, and I think that’s the piece that’s so important,” Allison Barber said. “Seventy-percent of our students statewide work fulltime and go to school to finish their bachelor’s or work to earn their master’s. We really are the university option for the working adult.”

Chancellor Barber said that because WGU is non-profit, tuition fees are lower than traditional colleges and universities – but students still have access to both state and federal financial aid.

“The model is both affordable and realistic to the people of Switzerland County,” the chancellor said. “We want to help them finish their degree.”

WGU currently offers degrees in four colleges: business, IT, education, and health professions. Chancellor Barber said that all of the classes are taken online with the exception of student teaching for those earning their teaching degrees.

“Because we transfer in credits from other universities, and because our model in competency-based – we don’t teach you what you know, you can apply what you’ve learned on the job in Switzerland County and apply it to your education with WGU Indiana. With that, students are graduating in two or two and a half years with a bachelor’s degree, which means you’re not only saving money, but your also saving time.”

Chancellor Barber said that interested students should visit the university’s website: www.indiana.wgu.edu.

The chancellor said that another aspect of WGU that is attractive to working adults is that the university registers people every month. That means that adults don’t have to wait until the next semester.

“When someone reads this article and says, ‘Wow, it’s time.’ They can go online on our website and they can be in classes in January,” the Chancellor said.

If it sounds like the perfect solution for the working person, Allison Barber says you’re exactly right.

“We don’t market to 18 year olds, that’s not our space,” she says. “We are the university created by Governors for the working adult.”

Chancellor Barber says that the “average student” enrolled at WGU is 37 years old, working full time, and they are transferring in credits from another college or university that they earned previously. Here in Indiana, most students come from rural areas like Switzerland County.